Few people in hockey circles would dispute the fact that you need to possess a strong work ethic and a tireless approach to your craft to not only get opportunities, but to get the message across to your players.
One coach who’s gaining notoriety for that journey is San Jose Sharks Head Coach Pete DeBoer. Coach DeBoer is speaking at this year’s Hockey Coaches in Conference in Toronto on July 18th, 19th, and 20th, and the opportunity to tell his story is probably not something he envisioned when he started coaching after class at the University of Windsor in the early 90’s.
For Pete DeBoer, then a young assistant coach alongside his friend and former junior teammate Paul Maurice, the chance to coach in the Ontario Hockey League was too good to pass up, but at the time he didn’t expect it to be a long-term career. Take this excerpt from an interview DeBoer did for Scott Burnside at The Athletic:
I vividly remember my mother saying ‘so let me get this straight, you spend three years in law school, you just graduated, you got a job and you’re going to quit and go and coach hockey?’ I remember her saying that. I said, ‘Yeah.’”
For two guys in their mid-20s, this whole coaching thing wasn’t a career move it was a passion. But whatever it was in their minds, it wasn’t likely to be sustainable.
“I remember our conversations were, listen, I want to do this, I know I’m going to get fired, when I get fired I can always go back and go to work,” DeBoer said. “And that’s 25 years ago.
It’s these types of stories that not only inspire coaches at every level of the game because of the inherent possibilities, but they also bring the profession back to Earth. Pete DeBoer was a junior hockey player like so many others who was asked to help out. And help out he did. He didn’t know coaching would become his calling until it did. He hasn’t rushed his career, taking care to learn and develop his approach year after year. These days he’s leading a talented San Jose Sharks squad through the ups and downs of the western conference final.
And he still looks unfazed behind the bench.
One day at a time. One game at a time.
From last week, in case you missed it…
Read the rest of the Mike Gillis announcement: